The Consciousness Café has been running at the National Arts Festival for a couple of years. A unique part of the Think!Fest programme that’s all about the progress of the marginalised, it provides a space for people to come together and express themselves o on topics regarding the state of the nation.
Hosting the café are Nobantu Nhantsi and Claire Bell, both of whom encourage members of the audience to participate and speak out honestly on issues. When I popped into the café, one of the issues that was being discussed was the misconception that if one does not speak perfect English, one might be thought of as unintelligent and thus discriminated against.
We were then divided into groups to talk about how we felt about this topic: one of the participants commented that children who have access to educational resources find it easier to become fluent and can live more freely without being judged. This speaks to the current division between public schools and private schools in South Africa – some schools are much more privileged than others, which is often a result of colonialism.
On that note, however, another participant urged us to keep in mind that making racial assumptions about each other is unproductive. Another comment was that the struggles of the old generation has affected the generations of today, therefore we are judged based on the pasts of our mothers and fathers.
In the interests of democracy, participating in transformation dialogues enables us to learn how to respect each other, speak without fear and help to bring about progress – platforms such as the Consciousness Café are effective in hosting such dialogues.
Coming to this Café is about more than fighting for the Black movement: it’s a chance to acknowledge what is happening to us, to help each other, and to remind ourselves that, through democracy, every voice counts.
Come on down to the Consciousness Café on 7 and 8 July at 11am at the Yellowwood Terrance (Monument).
By Yolisa Ndzombane